Feds halt Twin Metals plan for Minn. copper mine near Boundary Waters

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By:  @community, 5 months ago
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Two federal agencies have denied the renewal of mineral leases near Ely and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, dealing a major blow to the efforts of Twin Metals Minnesota to open an underground copper-nickel mine there.

The government also initiated steps that could lead to a 20-year moratorium on new mining in the region.

 

In announcing its decision, the U.S. Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture cited concerns expressed in thousands of public comments, and the potential environmental impacts of copper-nickel mining on the Boundary Waters wilderness, and the nearly $45 million recreation economy it supports.

"I have asked Interior to take a time out," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, "conduct a careful environmental analysis and engage the public on whether future mining should be authorized on any federal land next door to the Boundary Waters."

Twin Metals said it's "greatly disappointed" in the decision to halt the project, and that the company is committed to pressing forward and will continue to pursue its legal options for keeping its mineral rights.

If the decisions stand, Twin Metals said, they will have a devastating effect on the Iron Range Economy.

Twin Metals sued the federal government in September to force renewal of its leases. The case remains pending.

 

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Larry Hampton
link 12/15/16 03:58:47PM @larry-hampton:

 

The decision from the USDA, which oversees the Superior National Forest, withholds consent to the renewal of two mineral leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota near the Kawishiwi River and within three miles of the BWCA.

As a result of that decision, the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the mineral deposits under the national forest, rejected the renewal application from Twin Metals.

 

Those leases, which were first issued 50 years ago and are the only two mineral leases issues on the Superior National Forest, expired at the end of 2013.

The Forest Service indicated it was considering this course of action in June, when it stated it was "deeply concerned by the inherent risks associated with potential copper, nickel and other sulfide mining operations" within the Boundary Waters watershed.

The agency asked for public comment on the issue and held emotionally charged public listening sessions in Ely and Duluth this summer, with people speaking out passionately both for and against potential mining near the wilderness.

Opponents of copper-nickel mining so close to one of the nation's most visited wilderness areas praised the decision.

"Today's decision to halt the current threat of dangerous, environmentally risky sulfide-ore copper mining is a major victory for our state and our environment," said Minnesota DFL U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum.

"Today's decision reflects strong support from a majority of Minnesotans who want to prioritize the wide-ranging value our communities gain from a healthy Boundary Waters, rather than open an industrial mining zone less than a mile from the wilderness edge, said Becky Rom, with the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.

Supporters of Twin Metals hoped the company could lead a mining revival in northeast Minnesota. The company has been exploring in the region for several years.

That exploration formed the basis of a study the company released in 2014 that laid out the potential for a 30-year mine likened to an "underground city" that could employ 850 people mining 50,000 tons of ore per day.

The decision on the Twin Metals leases has no direct impact on the copper-nickel mine proposed by PolyMet. That mine would be located in the Superior National Forest near Hoyt Lakes, but is not within the BWCA watershed.

 

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Kavika
link 12/15/16 06:08:12PM @kavika:

Great news...It's inconceivable to me that anyone would support this mine. The Boundary Waters beauty is unmatched anywhere.

''If the decisions stand, Twin Metals said, they will have a devastating effect on the Iron Range Economy.''

Bullshit, the iron ore mines of the Iron Range operated for decades and still operate (taconite)...If you want to see huge holes in the ground and tailing ponds take a trip there. The Hull Rust was at one time the largest open pit ore mine in the world.

The economy has survived the down turn in ore mining and IMO, doesn't need more mines or any type.

 

 

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Kavika
link 12/15/16 06:37:10PM @kavika:

The mining and timber industries in NE MN have been boom and bust for decades...from the 1930's great depression the employment dropped from around 12,000 to 2,000. Again in the 1950/60's and again in the 1980's and 2010...

The timber industry was devastated in the 1930's when much of the timber had been cut.

 

 

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Kavika
link 12/15/16 06:11:55PM @kavika:

They wanted to put this at risk...

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Larry Hampton
link 12/15/16 06:59:30PM @larry-hampton:

Exactly Kavika, well said.

We cannot, we must not further destroy this pristine wilderness area. We all may end up having to live there one day...

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PJ
link 12/15/16 07:39:36PM @pj:

The government also initiated steps that could lead to a 20-year moratorium on new mining in the region.

My worry is that any decisions made now will be overturned once the new Administration comes in.  

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Enoch
link 12/15/16 08:19:42PM @enoch:

Take care of nature and it takes care of us.

Don't and it doesn't.

Some things are so simple.

Enoch.

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